AT&T Launches Mobile Share Value Plans With No-Contract Incentive

AT&T's new plan includes a 300MB option, lower monthly costs and incentives for not going the two-year contract route.

AT&T has announced new Mobile Share Value plans that will become available Sunday, Dec. 8.

When rival T-Mobile announced in December 2012 that it planned to shake up the mobile industry with strategies that its rivals likely wouldn't or couldn't follow, this may have been the type of thing it expected AT&T wouldn't do. But, with value-minded customers leaving in search of better deals (during its fiscal 2013 third quarter AT&T lost 285,000 subscribers, most of whom, it said, were "low-revenue") the nation's second-largest carrier surely sees the prudence in offering such customers some savings.

Its Mobile Share Value Plans include a new low data option of 300MB per month and make it cheaper to add phones.

The Mobile Share Value plan behaves like current Mobile Share plans in that subscribers pay a flat fee per device connected to a bucket of data, and then pay for a bucket size of their choosing.

With Mobile Share plans, the cost per smartphone ranges from $30, when connected to a data bucket of 10GB or more, to $50, when connected to just 300MB of data.

With a Mobile Share Value plan, the cost of adding a smartphone can be as low as $25, and isn't dependent on the amount of data it's tied to. The breakdown works like this:

--A two-year subsidized smartphone is $40 per month;

--A smartphone purchased through Next, AT&T's monthly device-financing offer, is $25 per month;

--A no-contract smartphone brought to AT&T is $25 per month; and

--Features phones are $20 per month to add.

If a customer were to add one smartphone to a 300MB data with a Mobile Share plan, that would be $70: $50 for the phone and $20 for the data. On a Mobile Share Value plan, it's $60 ($40 for the phone, if it's a new, two-year subsidized phone, plus $20 for the data). If a customer brought her own, contract-free phone to the plan, it would be $45 a month, $25 for the phone and $20 for the data. Ditto for pairing 300MB with a Next phone.

Add two smartphones to a Mobile Share Value Plan with 300MB of data and the cost is $100 per month (total), when paired with an subsidized phone or $70 when the phones are unsubsidized.

AT&T is essentially incentivizing customers away from subsidized phones on two-year contracts and toward paying the Next-backed, full retail price.

A Changing Mobile Industry

This year, T-Mobile introduced at least five major initiatives: It got rid of two-year contracts; it separated the cost of a device from the cost of service; it offered a way for subscribers to upgrade their devices more frequently; it began treating international texting and data use as included features in its Simple Choice plans; and it began offering interest-free, monthly device financing.

AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint have since begun offering monthly device financing, and each have offered ways for subscribers to upgrade their phones more often.

AT&T's Mobile Share Value plans are the closest that any of the top-three carriers have come to moving away from the two-year contract model.

"Our new no-contract option lets customers add a smartphone to the nation's fastest and most reliable 4G LTE [Long Term Evolution] network at a lower monthly cost," AT&T Chief Marketing Officer David Christopher said in a statement. "Customers want great value and a premium network—and now they can save more and get unlimited talk, text and data to share."

Consumers can connect up to 10 devices to a Mobile Share Value plan, while business customers can connect potentially up to 25 devices, depending on their plans.

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